“…The car represents freedom, mobility, and the control you feel over your destiny/destination.”
                                                                                                          -Callie Khouri, screenwriter, Thelma & Louise

For many of us right now, we yearn to get in a car and go! The “ Where” doesn’t matter as long as we’re able to “Get out of Dodge”. A reference to Dodge City, Kansas, the location of many Wild-West movies, “Get Out of Dodge” means to “leave an especially difficult and dangerous environment with all possible haste”! *

Luckily, after Sheltering In Place, communities are safer and beginning to re-open. The desire to go somewhere, anywhere, is normal.  We crave interaction with the outside world, regardless of distance and length of time.

Road Trips come in a variety of shapes and sizes such as (1) The Road Less Traveled, the untrodden destination to achieve aloneness; (2) The Landlocked Desire for sand between the toes and an ocean breeze; (3) City Folks Jaunt, mingling with nature in the country. These days eating on a restaurant’s patio can even feel like a short, satisfying adventure. 
 
Below is A List of “Get Out Of Dodge” Road Trip Ideas, from simple to full-throttle, and Tips, aka, Precautions for this evolving post-Covid-19 time.
 
Start Close In
Pick a park within 30-90 minutes from where you live. Pack a picnic and blanket, your facemasks and hand-sanitizer and head out. Look at the weather to avoid forecasted thunderstorms. Double check that the park is open and adhere to any Covid19 guidelines.
 
Check out your city/town’s website and or tourist page for ideas and information on re-openings. Visit Denver is a perfect example of available information. Pick a place to re-visit or see for the first time. Supporting community business and restaurants is a GREAT starting point for getting away. 
 
Pro-Tip: The “early bird always gets the worm”. To beat the heat and avoid lines, go early or go late. Slow it down. Take your time and let ease of being out of the house seap into your soul. Get in the car and Go Local.
 
One Night Stands
Identify a destination 2 – 3 hours away.  Check out the websites for advisories and updated information. Decide on accommodations (camping, hotel room, airBnb). Gas your car. Pack essentials. And Go for a night!
 
Hotels
Most hotels have established cleaning protocols so that guests can feel very safe and comfortable. Often hotels rotate rooms vacating for longer periods. Even so, for your peace of mind, bring cleaning supplies (an essential item) and disinfect all high-tech surfaces upon arriving in your room (especially remotes, light switches, door handles). As far as sheets and towels, it’s not necessary to bring your own unless, again, you feel more comfortable with your own pillow, for example. You’re driving so bring what you want.
 
When making a reservation understand cancellation policies. If you want to car camp and or check out an AirBNB the same process applies. Know before you go.
 
Gas Up
When you add gas to your car’s tank wear gloves (and then throw them out when finished) or wash your hands immediately afterwards at the gas station. Keep a hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes in your car and anytime you re-enter clean your hands. Make hand cleaning a routine.
 
Early Departure
Leave early in the morning so you can arrive with time to enjoy the destination and feel like you are gone longer than one night. On the way “Yelp” a restaurant with a patio or fantastic take-out for lunch and drive there immediately upon arrival. You can check-in later at your hotel. What’s the rush!
 
Easy Loop- 2-4 nights
Where have you always meant to go but never made the short trip? So often we focus on flying far, far away. Instead bring up a digital map on Google and identify a couple locations. Black Hills, S.D. anyone!  
 
It’s nice not to spend your whole day driving (unless the road is scenic). Arrive at your destination with time to spare. Recently my son and I arrived in Lawrence, Kansas at 5:00 pm, after an 8-hour drive. For a couple of early evening, sunlit hours we enjoyed walking around town, reading the historic plaques and visiting the University of Kansas campus (Go Jayhawks). In addition we scoped out our early morning activities for the next day and where we’d procure the all important Morning Jo!  
 
Before leaving check out the CDC’s Covid data tracker and, as mentioned earlier, check out what’s open and any specific guidelines. Not all states are the same.
 
Prep your car.  Make sure you have a full tank of gas, cleaning supplies, window washer, an oiled engine and the right tire pressure for the car’s load. If possible, subscribe to a Road Service in case of an emergency. Remember to bring a fully charged cell phone and an extra charger if possible.  
 
Rental car companies have also upped their game. Expect cars to be well maintained and cleaner than ever. Of course, for extra ease, upon arrival wipe down the car to assure that all surfaces are clean. 
 
Restrooms.  When you stop for gas, take a bathroom break as well. There’s no reason to stop at possibly busy “Rest Areas”. Create a routine for cleaning your hands when re-entering the car after your stop.
 
Book a private tour.  Although Visitor’s Centers might be closed, search out an excursion and or guiding company for booking a tour  (or please let me know if you need help).  There are a plethora of local companies eager to share their knowledge about a destination.
 
Full Throttle Scenic Itineraries – longer!
 
“It’s an odd fact of pandemic life that you find yourself longing for human contact while wishing for a place where you can be miles from anybody.” – Mark Childress
 
America is a beautiful country. Longer Road Trips might require a plane trip and a rental car. Plane travel is actually safer than you might expect (Here’s a good article about what to expect). Or perhaps you’re ready to travel farther with your car, in a loop and or on a scenic byway and have lots of time for the road!   
 
Along the way there are not to be missed sites and some outstanding properties slowly opening back up. Create an itinerary from the list below (and this is just a short list) and feel free to contact me for help with your plans. Of course, check out Covid-19 protocols ahead of any travel, knowing that you will want to limit exposure and take all precautions.  Our country awaits.
  • Route 66 – Lake Michigan to California (two weeks)
  • The Great River Road- Follow the Mississippi to New Orleans
  • Pacific Coast Highway (Start in San Francisco and head south.)
  • High Road to Taos. Wander in New Mexico along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, through old Hispanic villages and desert sands
  • Blue Ridge Parkway, Carolinas and Virginia – 500 miles through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks
  • US1 Florida Keys– Although Florida continues to have restrictions (and you might be required to have a recent negative Covid19 test), this 120 mile-long chain is a stunning! 
  • Bluebonnet Trail, Texas between Houston and Austin, including a chain of seven interconnected lakes, such as Lake Buchanan. 
  • North Shore Drive, Minnesota starting in Duluth towards Two Harbors.
  • Highway 101, Oregon, stunning coastal vistas, beaches and quaint towns for 300 miles +.
  • Anchorage to Valdez, Alaska (you’ll need a current negative Covid19 test and might want to fly) 
No matter the destination know before your go!  Do your homework about each destination and make sure you’re familiar with Covid-19 advisories. On my recent trip no one asked me any questions; rather I did most of the asking and was “in the know” about what to expect in each locale. Please wear your facemask to keep everyone safe, even if you see others without masks (which you will). 
 
Get in the car and Go! Near or Far it doesn’t matter.  Feel Free for a little while, fully present and relaxed on the journey.
 
“Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” (-Confucius)
 
 
*Google search sourced information on “Get out of Dodge”